Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Make the Right Call

For every first-time leadership donor to United Way that you encourage to pledge, your name will be entered into a drawing for two tickets to the Monday, November 7th Eagles vs. Bears game at Lincoln Financial Field in the First Niagara suite. VIP parking passes, food and beverages are also included with the tickets.

Completed pledge forms must be received by Monday, October 31st. One winner will be drawn by the end of the business day on 10/31/11. There is no limit on how many times you may enter. Please simply inform us if you have invited a friend to become a Leadership Donor and if they have accepted, who they are. We’ll handle the rest!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Young, motivated and ready to make a difference…

Many thanks to Chuck Porter of Canon Capital and Chair for our Emerging Leaders Society for taking some time to write this blog post about being a young professional in the North Penn and Indian Valley communities. For more information on how to join our Emerging Leaders Society, contact Chuck at cporter@canoncapital.com or check us out on Facebook

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the day to day grind at work. Rather than managing our lives, we often choose to manage our time – focusing on deadlines and five o’clocks. The problem is that, when we choose to take that route, we tend to focus on what we have to do rather than what we can do. For a young worker, it can be especially difficult to avoid this trap and, at the same time, it is critically imperative to go beyond deadlines and working for the weekend.

Young workers, like me, often feel like our voices aren’t heard. We feel like we’re working for someone else and the inherent motivation when that happens is the day when that position is yours and the things that you’ll change when you’re in charge. You lose some of the edge that probably got you the job you’re in and the people around you no longer look at you as a source of energy but rather, just another cog in the machine.

So how do you combat this? What are the safeguards that you can put in place to prevent this from happening?

First and most important – you have to understand that you have the ability to lead no matter which position you are in. After all, leadership is not about power, it’s about influence and anyone can be influential, regardless of title. Your day to day actions have the ability to inspire those around you.

Second, you have to be deliberate about expanding your growth as a leader. Some people are born with the ability to lead but without proper care, those abilities can go stale. Seeking out mentors and finding ways to sharpen those leadership abilities are critical to expanding capabilities.

Third, you have to model yourself after the person that you aspire to be. If you want to be a good leader, you have to do the things that good leaders do. You have to be ask great things of yourself before you ask great things of others.

The Emerging Leaders Society of the North Penn United Way is committed to providing the framework to help emerging leaders in our area expand their leadership capabilities. Our efforts to grow our group have focused on three key areas: leadership development, community service and networking.

Our leadership development efforts have consisted of quarterly “Lunch and Learns.” Over the past year, our members have had the privilege of hearing from Ron Geib, President and CEO of Harleysville Savings and Rich Aichele, Executive Director at Keystone Opportunity Center, among others, speak about their journeys and the characteristics of a good leader. In October, we will be holding our next “Lunch and Learn” with Ken Byler, Partner and Senior Consultant at Higher Ground Consulting Group. He will be speaking on the Paradox of Leading and Following.

September will be a community service month for our group – we will be seeking out volunteers for the United Way Days of Caring on September 28th and the Run For Your Neighbor 5K on September 24th.

Finally, in November we will be celebrating our efforts and networking at our Cocktails and Comedy event at McCoole’s in Quakertown – a comedy show featuring David James (http://davidjamescomedy.com). Our social events provide a great way for emerging leaders to meet other like-minded individuals.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Urgent Action Needed!

Funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, including AmeriCorps, will be dramatically cut or eliminated in the appropriations proposal to be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this week. United Way opposes the funding cuts and we are working with our Partners at Service Nation to preserve the funding. United Way of PA is working closely with both federal and state partners regarding the federal budget situation. We are extremely concerned about a number of proposals, especially those with negative impacts on such initiatives as AmeriCorps, heating assistance and charitable giving.

As you know, the past three years the North Penn United Way has used the incredible talents of AmeriCorps Vista members to advance our work in the community, work that no agency in the community has had the capacity to undertake: This is very time sensitive and NEITHER EMAIL MESSAGES NOR LETTERS will make it in time. Please read about action we need to take today!!!

AmeriCorps Vista members in the North Penn Community have produced the following results:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance helps working families secure free tax assistance, claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, and receive banking services and budget counseling, and avoid predatory lending. The program increased volunteerism in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program last year by 62%. 63 community members provided free income tax assistance to 375 working families in our community. The work of these 63 volunteers represents nearly 2000 hours of volunteer services equaling $40,500 worth of service to the community. Vista Members increased the number of sites from 4 to 10 creating greater access to hard working families in the North Penn and Indian Valley community. This represents 150% increase. Increased families served by 191%---from 129 families to 375 last year. Dollars returned to the community were $535,710 a 315% increase over the prior tax season. This saved these families an estimated $84,375 in tax preparation fees. Work was also advanced in the Korean community: 54 families served. Members secured a $41,000 grant for our community through IRS to better serve the community in the 2010-11 filing season.

AmeriCorps also advance the organization of the North Penn School Readiness Initiative. This program involves the North Penn and Souderton School Districts and 19 lead early care organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Montgomery County Childcare consortium, Headstart, etc. The group is looking to better systems, cross system communication with an emphasis on LOW-COST, NO-COST solutions that encourage civic engagement and volunteerism. Volunteers tutor kids and educate families and caregivers about the value of early literacy skills. Members are looking at ways to identify at risk children and better prepare them for entering school ready to succeed. Investment in bettering early childcare returns at least $7 to $17 DOLLARS FOR EVERY $1 INVESTED. Early care and education are a critical component on Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. It helps local businesses prosper, creates jobs, reduces employee absenteeism and turnover, increases the ability of PA businesses to attract skilled employees, establish a much needed foundation for sustained economic growth because early learning is the key to ensure that future employees have the early 21st Century skills PA businesses need.

Please take the following action today to preserve funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service—Particularly the preservation of AmeriCorps: The return on investment in their work in advancing our Community Impact work is returning $40 for every $1 invested in the programs our AmeriCorps members run and support. This is not “busy” work…this is real and needed work in our community that will be lost without this program!

Talking Points for the House of Representatives:
I am calling to urge you to vote NO on any proposal to eliminate funding for AmeriCorps or the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The CR will decimate vital services in our communities when millions of Americans need food, shelter, healthcare, job training and educational support. Communities are counting on AmeriCorps members, national service participants and community volunteers to meet the increased demand for services. Provide an example of your local impact and what will be lost if your program is eliminated. Example: The North Penn United Way has 3 AmeriCorps members serving in our community.

Nearly 400 families will go without free tax assistance services that have been injecting over $600,000 dollars into our local economy. The efforts of the North Penn School Readiness Initiative will be hampered and hundreds of at risk children and families in our community will not benefit from the volunteer tutoring offered by this group. The CR will only push unemployment rates up. Unemployment numbers -- particularly for young people, veterans and military spouses, older Americans and people of color-remain alarmingly high. For Americans who are struggling to find work, national service programs offer participants the opportunity to earn a subsistence-level stipend, develop skills, and create pathways to future employment. Eliminating programs like AmeriCorps will result in jobs lost for the corps members and the staff who supervise them. Example: If Congress eliminates AmeriCorps, our 3 AmeriCorps members and the staff that supervise them may be out of work. The federal investment made in faith based and community organizations through the Corporation for National and Community Service leverages $799 million in matching funds from companies, foundations and other sources. If you defund the national service programs, whole organizations will shut down and most will not be able to reopen again even if funding is restored.


We need to focus on the following members of congress:

Allyson Schwartz (D): Washington- 202-225-6111 office phone; 202-226-0611 Fax-- Montgomery County Office 215-517-6572 office phone; 215-517-6575 office fax

Charlie Dent (R): Washington-202-225-6411 office phone; 202-226-0778 fax; Montgomery County 215-541-4106 office phone; 215-541-4109 fax

Jim Gerlach (R): Washington 202-225-4315 office phone; 202-225-8440 fax; Montgomery County 610-409-2780 office phone; 610-409-7988 fax

You can call your Representatives directly or be connected through the House Operator (202-225-3121). Once connected, identify yourself as a constituent and ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant in change of national service and education issues

Given the severity of the cuts proposed by the House, you may experience some difficulty calling the Capitol. It is important that you keep trying. If you can't reach your representative by phone, please send a fax communication to their office. This is time sensitive ask. Email messages or mailed letters will not reach the decision makers in time. It is critical that our lawmakers hear from the constituents directly impacted by their decisions.

Over the weekend United Way of PA started to develop PA specific material for the field to use for advocacy efforts. They will be finalized in the next day or so. In the meantime, here is what you can do today! Please take action. This program is critical to the success of our United Way’s impact in the community.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Big Shot Concert


This is the Time to Remember! The North Penn United Way is hosting "BIG SHOT" at its first ever fundraiser and silent auction at the PineCrest Country Club in Lansdale, PA on May 6, 2011 BIG SHOT, New York’s ultimate Billy Joel Tribute Band, are without a doubt the most musically satisfying BILLY JOEL tribute band on the scene today!

BIG SHOT, is fronted by Michael Delguidice, and comprised of pro national touring artists, who individually performed with such artists as Hall and Oates, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton and The "Piano Man" himself. . . BILLY JOEL!

BILLY JOEL remarked after listening to BIG SHOT’S accurate reproduction of his repertoire: "They had a hard time convincing me that it wasn’t me."

All proceeds of this event will go towards the North Penn United Way’s Community Action Fund. The event begins at 7:00 pm and includes appetizers, open bar, performance and lots of dancing!

To purchase tickets call North Penn United Way at 215-855-3002.
*Cash, credit/debit cards and checks are accepted.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The 2011 Tax Season Has Arrived

The Montgomery County Tax Coalition will have a kick-off event at the Western Montgomery Career & Technology Center to celebrate the 5th Annual Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Awareness Day and the start of the 2011 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. The event will be held this Friday Jan.28, 2011 from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Community members are invited to attend!

The Earned Income Tax Credit was created in 1975 to help offset Social Security taxes. It is for working people who earn less than $49,000 per year. The IRS works with more than 60 national partners and over 370 community-based coalitions to offer the VITA Program a chance to encourage eligible individuals to take advantage of the credit. More workers could be eligible for a special tax credit this year and not know it. As a result, they may overlook claiming the EITC, which can put between $2 and $5,600 into their pockets. Changes in people’s earnings, their parental status or their marital status may cause their EITC eligibility to change as well. Many people will quality for the first time this year due to changes in their income. Last year, during the 2010 tax season, more than 200 volunteers in Montgomery County helped to prepare hundreds of returns for families & individuals, returning nearly $3.5 million in tax refunds!

For more information about the IRS and Earned Income Tax Credit visit http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96406,00.html

Sites that are holding these free tax services are:

Indian Valley Public Library
100 E. Church Avenue
Telford, PA 18969

Daesung (AP) Academy
1256 Welsh Road, #100
North Wales, PA

Encore Experiences
312 Alumni Avenue
Harleysville, PA (for clients 55+)

Montgomery County Community College Central Campus
340 DeKalb Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422

Trinity Lutheran Church
100 W. Main Street
Lansdale, PA 19446

Northwestern Human Services
400 North Broad Street
Lansdale, PA 19446

To schedule an appointment at your nearest site call us, the North Penn United Way, at 215-855-3002.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Visit the IRS Website

Don’t wait in line, go online. Point and click your way through the tax season. All you need is a computer and Internet access because the IRS website has a wealth of free information and online tax support. Here are the top 10 reasons to visit http://www.irs.gov.

1. If you find yourself working on your tax return over the weekend, there’s no need to wait to get a form or an answer to a question – visit the IRS website anytime. The website is accessible all day, every day.

2. Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It's exclusively at http://www.irs.gov. Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free. If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit http://www.irs.gov/freefile to review your options.

3. Try IRS e-file: After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers - 99 million people - used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. This is your chance to give it a try. IRS e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely. If you owe taxes, you have payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline. Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days. More information about e-file is available at http://www.irs.gov.

4. Check the status of your tax refund. Whether you chose direct deposit or asked the IRS to mail you a check, you can check the status of your refund through Where’s My Refund?

5. Find out how to make payments electronically. You can authorize an electronic funds withdrawal, use a credit or debit card, or enroll in the U.S. Treasury’s Electronic Federal Tax Payment System to pay your federal taxes. Electronic payment options are a convenient, safe and secure way to pay taxes.

6. Find out if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. EITC is a tax credit for many people who earned less than $49,000. Find out if you are eligible by answering some questions and providing basic income information using the EITC Assistant.

7. Get tax forms and publications. You can view and download tax forms and publications any hour of the day or night.

8. Calculate the right amount of withholding on your W-4. The IRS Withholding Calculator will help you ensure that you don’t have too much or too little income tax withheld from your pay.

9. Request a payment agreement. Paying your taxes in full and on time avoids unnecessary penalties and interest. However, if you cannot pay your balance in full you may be eligible to use the Online Payment Agreement Application to request an installment agreement.

10. Get information about the latest tax law changes. Learn about tax law changes that may affect your tax return. Special sections of the website highlight changes that affect individual or business taxpayers.

Remember the address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Don't be confused by Internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov.

Reposted from IRS Tax Tips, an IRS e-mail service.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Donated Holiday Trees Bring Cheer to Families in Need

For the 20th year in a row, Target stores across the country will celebrate the season of giving by donating decorated holiday trees to United Way as part of the Target Share-a-Tree Program.

This holiday season, United Way volunteers will distribute 2,678 decorated trees—worth an estimated $500,000—to families in need and local partners such as shelters, community centers and childcare programs.

“A single act of kindness is an important step in any effort to improve lives and strengthen and support your community. The Target Share-a-Tree program does just that,” said United Way President and CEO Brian Gallagher. “For 20 years now, United Way has been proud to partner with Target to give lift to this very special program and bring holiday cheer to families everywhere.”

“The holiday season is about sharing with others, especially those in need,” said President of Target Community Relations and Target Foundation Laysha Ward. “With our partners at United Way, Target is honored to continue the tradition of sharing our holiday trees with families across the country.”